Incremental progress

We all expect to see change overnight.


Not just basic change, but drastic change. And frankly, it's just not possible. Losing 50 pounds in a week is not possible. Growing your sales tenfold in a month is probably not possible.

Or at least it's improbable.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who is studying for a graduate entrance exam —

 the GMAT. The conversation focused on what she can do to better believe that she could score well on the math portion as opposed to doing well only on the verbal.

The conversation started with an assessment of mindset. She conceded that she had a fixed mindset about her ability to perform well on the math section. So her question was, how does she change her fixed mindset to be one more of growth? How can she have a growth mindset about the math portion and not psych herself out when she takes the exam. 

And that's where the conversation became interesting.

Because we started with a look at her current state. I asked her, “Where did your score start on the math section and where have you come in the last month or two? What score are you looking for? And then how many questions or reps do you have to take to ensure that you will increase your probability of scoring higher on the math section?”

Our conversation also centered on the reality of standardized tests: there is a little luck involved.

If you happen to wake up on the right side of the bed, maybe guess a little bit more accurately, then you might score higher that day. At the same time, if you wake up on the opposite side of the bed, if you don't sleep well... you lose a little bit of momentum and confidence. And then, all of a sudden, you might score lower. So it's really impossible to say what the real score is going to be.

But at the same time, if you could instill confidence in yourself that you've done everything you can to prepare and everything you can to perform well, then that's what we're looking for.

And so this whole idea of mindset really comes into play. It’s about what can you learn? And how can you grow?

In this instance, the woman landed on incrementally improving her confidence through deliberate preparation, because she realized that she can’t control what will actually happen during the test that day. What she could control was changing her mindset through preparation and practice. Focusing on the process. Not an unknown outcome.

So the next time you ask yourself, “how can I change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset,” think about that incremental change - the little steps - that it will take for you to become more confident and perform better.

The outcome (score) is one thing; but it's really everything that leads up to that outcome that will dictate how you feel and how much you believe you can reach your potential. 

At that particular moment and beyond.

Brian Alvo